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Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes In the Us Congress, 3rd Edition 3rd Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0872893061
ISBN-10: 0872893065
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Barbara Sinclair is Marvin Hoffenberg Professor of American Politics at the University of California at Los Angeles. She served as chair of the Legislative Studies Section of the American Political Science Association from 1993 to 1995. She is the author of several books, including Legislators, Leaders, and Lawmaking: The U.S. House of Representatives in the Postreform Era, (1995) and Transformation of the U.S. Senate (1989), which won the Richard F. Fenno Prize and the D. B. Hardeman Prize.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 287 pages
  • Publisher: CQ Press; 3 edition (June 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872893065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872893061
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,319,347 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin J. Locher on October 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
In her book, Unorthodox Lawmaking: New Legislative Processes in the U.S. Congress, Barbara Sinclair successfully argues that legislation no longer follows the common "textbook method." Representatives and senators alike have adapted new methods, sending each bill through a different custom-tailored process. Though she leaves a few questions unanswered, Sinclair uses multiple forms of research to paint a clear picture of how legislation is now passed.
Sinclair divides the book into three sections - first analyzing the path bills take, then exploring how and why these processes developed, and finally making an in-depth analysis of these changes through several case studies.
The House, she argues, has grown more efficient through this developmental process. The leadership has seized power through a variety of rules and other manipulations. By shipping bills to what committee it wants (or, in some cases, committees), the leadership can put bills in friendly hands. Post-committee changes make bills passable, and finally the leadership can use rules to craft debate exactly how it wants.
In the Senate, the opposite has happened. Senators have used new methods to gain individual power. Most importantly, Senators have often use filibusters, both covertly and overtly, to prevent the majority from getting its way. The need for a 60 person majority gives a minority senator incredible power.
After this analysis, Sinclair then turns to examine how these changes came about. She suggests that opportunity and necessity drove the changes. As parties became more polarized and constituents demanded more efficient legislation, the Senators looked for ways to outsmart and out manipulate the other side.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christy Woodward Kaupert on July 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
There exists a profound difference between the legislative process observed on Capitol Hill and the legislative process described in most U.S. Gov't textbooks and Sinclair's work presents a fluid and well written testament to that fact!
In her preface, she explains that this work was written to help the most nascent student of Congress understand the legislative process, but I would say those without a working knowledge of Congress will not appreciate the nuances in this work.
Sinclair compares historical and even for their time, controversial legislation (Clean Air Act) with the more modern examples of legislation that proved out signficantly more problematic than their earlier counterparts. Moving back and forth between the House and the Senate, she begins to paint the picture of the divisiveness that is partisan politics today.
That Sinclair would write such an ambitious work, is a tribute to her understanding of this body. This book is sophisticated and insightful and should be on the shelves of EVERY student in political science, but particularly those who study Congress.
I would add this disclaimer however, that this book is not for the faint of heart. If one has already developed an abiding mistrust in Congress, this book may only serve to reinforce it. The simple fact is, if more people were exposed to the true nature of "doing the business of the people," they would appreciate the "ugliness of democracy" and embrace it for that! Three cheers to Barbara!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tim Schnabel on April 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for a course on the Legislative Process. While it is definitely readable, and well-researched, it is expectedly dry. Sinclair describes methods that are becoming more common in getting major legislation passed, and shows that this unorthodoxy is not necessarily a bad thing. The first half of the book describes the changes that the system has undergone, while the second half illustrates how these methods affected several major bills. Examples include a national service bill, regulatory overhaul, an omnibus drug bill, and two budgets.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent companion to any class on the US Congress. Accompanying a "traditional" book on the Congress, this volume gave insight to the new processes of lawmaking that our Congress has evolved into. The book is easily readable for any college student, and gives very helpful background to how our government really works.
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